Middle Ground

By Sunglow


Rating: G

Author Notes: This is the third in what Moonglow and I are calling our Temp Trilogy which was started in challenge #69 Outsiders View. Again I had to cut it down from just over 1600 words. If anyone wants to read the expanded version it's posted in my LJ.


Blair had spent the time since he got home lecturing himself and gathering his courage to broach the subject of moving their relationship to a more intimate one. He'd also had two showers since he'd been home, one before the panic attack and one after; he hadn't needed a sentinel's nose to smell the fact that he'd been sweating. He was now cool, calm and collected and ready for what he hoped wasn't going to be a difficult conversation with Jim.

"Hey Chief, what's for dinner?"

"Macaroni cheese, it'll be ready in twenty minutes. You want a beer?"

"After I have a shower." Jim leaned against the counter. "Did you get to speak to that temp?"

"She has a name, Jim, it's Mary. Yes, I did get to speak to her and you'll be pleased to know she isn't a sentinel."

"Oh, that's good."

"She just has good eyesight. She spotted something I missed and I'm a trained observer." Blair gathered his courage and opened his mouth, but was forestalled by Jim.

"Well, I'm going to have that shower." Jim turned and headed upstairs to get a change of clothes.


"I saw Simon with the temp…Mary…this evening. He was trying to flirt with her."

"Really? Way to go, Simon." Blair grinned, pleased for Simon.

"I heard him talking about fraternization."

"You don't approve?"

"No." Jim was uncompromising. "It was bad enough when Caroline and I broke up, can you imagine how much worse it would have been if we'd worked in the same department?"

"Not everyone breaks up, Jim."

"No? Okay, what about the fraternization rules? Can you imagine trying to keep it secret? The little touches, the secret smiles? Someone would notice."

Blair's eyes drifted over to where Jim was building a bookcase in his spare time. There was a two by four over there and he wondered if Simon would miss his best detective.

"Chief?" Jim was waving a hand in front of his face, trying to attract his attention. "You're drifting there, buddy."

"Oh, sorry Jim. You're probably right."

"You know I am. Work and pleasure don't mix, you only have to look at you and Sam."

"Yeah." Depression settled over Blair like a cloud; there was no way now that he'd be able to approach his roommate.


"Hi, Rhonda, how was your vacation?" Mary came in to find Rhonda already back at her desk.

"Wonderful. How was everything here?"

"Great. Everyone's been very helpful."

"I told you they were a good bunch."

"Hi, Rhonda." Blair had followed Jim through the doors of the bullpen but hadn't gone straight past like Jim. "How was your vacation? Plenty of sun, sea and…" Blair wiggled his eyebrows and leered.

"A lady never tells, Blair."

"Hi, Mary."

"Hi Blair." Mary raised her eyebrows and motioned her head towards Jim. Blair gave a sad smile and shook his head.

"I gotta go."

"Going to tell me what that was all about?"

"I'll tell you at lunch, Rhonda."

"So? Spill." Rhonda hadn't asked while they ate lunch but now she was going to get some answers.

"I screwed up, Rhonda."

"What did you do? Misplace an important file?"

"I assumed Blair and Detective Ellison were 'together'." Mary did some air quotes. "I spoke to Blair about it."

"You didn't."

"Well you started it with the coffee." Mary shrugged.

"So what did he say?"

"That there wasn't anything like that going on between them. I got the impression that he wouldn't say no though."

"What did Jim say?"

"He's hardly spoken to me. I don't think he realises it himself and we suggested to Blair that he talk to Jim himself. That was last night."

"Who's 'we'?"


"No! You sly thing you! You're on first name terms already? It took me six months for him to let me call him that."

"We're going for a drink tonight. He has rules about fraternisation."

"With Simon it's 'I won't ask if you don't tell'."

"Well Blair obviously hasn't spoken to Jim yet. Rhonda, I think he needs a little push."


The two women got back to work and while Rhonda made sure Jim was out of the office, Mary cornered Blair.

"Here, we got you this." Mary handed him a paper bag with a well-known drugstore logo on it and walked away, grinning.

Blair peeked inside before hurriedly stuffing it in his backpack.

When Jim got back he noticed Blair was red in the face and almost hyperventilating.

"What's up, Chief? You okay?"

"F..fine, Jim." Blair concentrated on checking his email account and noticed an email from Rhonda. He almost choked on his coffee when he read the single line.

"Equip the man, not man the equipment?" Jim happened to catch the content. "What's Rhonda doing sending you the motto for the Navy Seals?"

"It's a joke, man."


Simon came out of his office at the end of the day pulling on his coat. He stopped by Rhonda's desk and waited for Mary to look up.

"Ready for that drink, Mary?"

"Just one thing I have to do first, Simon." Mary scribbled on a post-it note and marched across to where Blair and Jim still sat looking at files.

"Blair? I'm leaving now. I hope we meet again." Mary held out her hand. Blair stood up and shook it, and was surprised when she kissed his cheek.

"Good luck."

Blair looked down at the post-it she'd left in his hand and blushed.

"Who Dares Wins?" Jim plucked it out of his hand and glared across at a smirking Rhonda; Simon and Mary had already gone. What were they playing at?


Jim was silent on the trip home, apart from the audible grinding of his teeth. Something was going on between Sandburg and that temp and he wanted to know what it was.

Blair was quietly gathering his courage for the confrontation he knew was coming. Did he dare take Mary's advice?

He followed Jim up the stairs and into the apartment, going straight to his room to dump his backpack. He came out to find Jim over by the balcony doors, a beer in his hand.

"There's a beer on the counter for you." Jim said, taking a big swallow of his own.


"You going to tell me what's been going on between you and the temp?"

"Mary, Jim. Her name's Mary."

"I don't give a fuck what her name is. What's. Been. Going. On?"

"You need to chill, man."

Almost before he could blink, Jim was in his face.

"Don't tell me to chill, Sandburg. Just tell me what's going on."

"Simon said I'd need a two by four." Blair took a sip of beer for courage and braced himself.

"Okay, here goes. Mary thought we were together."

"We are."

"No, 'together' together." Blair did air quotes and waited for the penny to drop.

Various expressions chased across Jim's face and Blair knew the exact moment when the penny dropped. A speculative gleam entered Jim's eyes and a small smile tugged at his lips.

"You want to be?"

Blair opened his mouth but nothing came out. He tried again and managed a hoarse croak.

"Do you?"

Jim's hand reached out and tucked a lock of hair behind Blair's ear, the fingers continuing through the hair to cradle the back of his head.

"I can't say I've never thought about it. You and me. Together."

"Oh man." Blair took a shaky breath.

"So what's with all the motto's today?" Jim tugged him closer.

"Mary thought I should make a move on you. She's military, and thought the SAS motto was appropriate. Who Dares Wins." Blair smiled up at Jim. "Guess I won, eh?"

"She forgot the Rangers motto." Jim smiled back, bending so that his lips almost brushed Blair's. "Rangers Lead The Way." And closed the gap between them.

Drawing back to take a breath, Jim grabbed his hand and tugged him towards the stairs, looking surprised when Blair pulled him to a stop. Untangling their fingers, he darted into his room and Jim could hear him rummaging in his backpack.

Seconds later he was back beside Jim, the drugstore bag clutched in his hand.

"My favorite motto, Jim." He grinned. "Be Prepared."


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